Having only two members in a band is naturally limiting, but that forces the musicians into some pretty creative solutions. Over the course of eight years, the Dodos have pushed these kinds of boundaries with just a guitarist and a drummer. Their songs are orchestral without using an actual orchestra; Meric Long’s open-tuned guitar and Logan Kroeber’s modified drum kit can cut huge swaths of color, even with the smaller palette.
Of course, it’s uninhibited teamwork that makes this possible. In 2005, Long was another singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar, bumming around San Francisco, when he met Kroeber. The two hit it off immediately, attracted to the tough task of translating their small lineup into something that could blast out of clubs and earbuds. Their first offering, 2006’s Beware Of The Maniacs, was lo-fi but passionate, showing off the unique dynamic between Long and Kroeber. Over time, the Dodos have come to use the studio as another instrument, clarifying and expanding their anthemic live sound. The duo even added a few touring musicians to the roster a few years ago to bolster their performances.
But it’s this live version of the Dodos that weighs heavily on the band’s collective mind these days. Last year, touring guitarist Chris Reimer died suddenly in his sleep, cutting short a life that left a sizable impact. On tour, Reimer taught Long to focus on different aspects of guitar-playing. “Seeing how [Reimer] could transform and shape sound with an electric guitar inspired me to explore more tones and use those tones to begin writing a song,” says Long. It’s immediately apparent on Carrier, the band’s upcoming fifth album, due out August 27. The songs are just as expansive, but Long’s guitar dances around Kroeber’s drumming like never before. A quick glance at the track listing–“Confidence,” “Relief,” “Family,” “Death,” “Destroyer”–also reflects a new direction for the Dodos’ unfettered emotions. In particular, “Confidence” wears its heart on its sleeve, both lyrically and musically. “So, you had to find your way / I have your will / The task is waiting,” Long sings, while tapping in unison with Kroeber. When the track hits its explosive coda, it’s absolutely cathartic–a beautiful way to remember a fallen friend.